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Get to know the individuals who make The Riverside Church a welcoming place of worship and service. Discover their stories, interests, and the multiple roles they play in our community and beyond. Join us on this spiritual journey and connect with the amazing people behind our beloved congregation.
The Reverend Adriene Thorne is the eighth senior minister of the historic Riverside Church in the City of New York and the first African American woman to hold the position. Prior to leading Riverside, Rev. Thorne served The First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn for six years where she cofounded the award winning Brooklyn Heights Community Fridge and where the community named her one of the Top Ten Most Impactful People. After seminary, Rev. Thorne spent eight years at Middle Collegiate Church in a variety of ministerial roles, concluding her service there as the Executive Minister.
Rev. Thorne received her Master of Divinity degree from The Pacific School of Religion where she earned the Koinonia Award, the school’s highest honor, given to those who strengthened the seminary through outstanding contributions of spirit, insight, and intellect. She completed post-graduate studies in pastoral care and counseling at The Blanton-Peale Institute and is a certified life coach and disaster chaplain.
Rev. Thorne is a healer, Presbyterian minister, and classically trained dancer who uses movement to heal bodies in the church and community. She has been a dancing theologian for over twenty years and is the originator of Embodied Pastoring. Adriene studies Somatic Abolitionism with NY Times best-selling author and renowned coach, Resmaa Menakem, and with her experience, both in church and on stage, she brings unparalleled creativity and movement to her work of anti-racist practice and culture building.
Rev. Thorne grounds her Christian practice and leadership in an appreciation for imperfection that attempts to embody robust vulnerability. She leads with an understanding that even the resurrected Christ came back in a flawed body – what hopeful news for us! Adriene believes that everyone brings gifts to the table and that we teach one another. She is grateful for the wisdom found in collaborative leadership and delights in anyone who tries to listen well. Stepping back to step forward, Rev. Thorne has learned the tremendous power of silence and stillness for her own leadership joy.
Hometown: Camp Springs, MD
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies with a Creative Writing focus; Master of Divinity with focus on Pastoral Care and Art & Theology
Hobbies & Interests: SCUBA diving, travel, painting, collage, squash, reading, writing, learning about other cultures and faith traditions, retreats, rituals
Side Gigs: Mom to an amazing human, caregiver to loving parents, writer, speaker, PTA member, event planner, ritualist
Favorite Movies: Anything Black Panther and Wakanda
Favorite TV shows: Family Reunion, Kim’s Convenience, anything Sherlock Holmes
Current Playlist: India.Arie, Yolanda Adams, Prince, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Luther Vandross, Rhiannon Giddens, KRS-One, Whitney Houston, Norah Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Travis Greene, Jon Batiste
Favorite character in the Bible: Depending on the day, I like Mary the Theotokos (The God Bearer) and the Syro-Phoenician WomanRead more on Senior Minister's Webpage
Rev. Lynn Casteel Harper serves as Riverside’s Minister of Older Adults. Before joining Riverside’s staff, Lynn was a nursing home chaplain at a continuing care retirement community, where her passion for aging justice began. An ordained Baptist minister, Lynn completed her M.Div. at Wake Forest University and her chaplaincy residency at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Lynn’s writing and interviews on spirituality, dementia, and aging have appeared with outlets such as NPR’s Think, Salon, LA Review of Books, Kaiser Health News, and Huffington Post. Her debut book, On Vanishing: Mortality, Dementia, and What It Means to Disappear (Catapult, 2020), was named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection. Originally from southeastern Missouri, Lynn lives with her husband Ryan Harper in Manhattan, just south of the church.
Hometown: Jackson, Missouri
Education: M.Div. at Wake Forest University and her chaplaincy residency at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
Hobbies & Interests: Hiking, biking, playing tennis, watching stand-up comedy
Side Gigs: Selling novelty t-shirts that feature my favorite train called the Dinky
Favorite Movies: What About Bob?, Waiting for Guffman, The Royal Tenenbaums
Favorite TV Shows: The Detectorists, The Office, Kim’s Convenience, 30 Rock
Current Playlist: Marvin Gaye, Indigo Girls, Vivaldi
Favorite Character in the Bible: Shiphrah and Puah, and Mary
Rev. Jim Keat is the Digital Minister at The Riverside Church in New York City. He is the producer of original media projects from The Riverside Church like The Word Made Fresh, Bible in a Minute, Church of the Long Run, Be Still and Go, and more. He also creates regular resources to equip churches and faith leaders in their digital ministry and aspires to resume making videos documenting his family’s ongoing adventures in their sixteen-foot Airstream.
Previously Jim served as the Associate Minister of Education at Middle Collegiate Church, a Product Designer at Sparkhouse/Augsburg Fortress, and the Middle School Program + Content Pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church. He received his M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary where he received The Faculty Award for Advocacy in Racial Ethnic Reconciliation and The President’s Community Life Award.
Education: MDiv from Western Theological Seminary, Spiritual Direction Practicum from Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College
Hobbies & Interests: Running, travel, board games, cooking, making videos
Favorite Movies: Unashamedly obsessed with the MCU
Side Gigs: Director of Online Innovation with Convergence, Digital Consultant to various progressive faith agencies and organizations. Maybe someday he’ll write a book.
What’s on your playlist? Anything by Noah Kahan, San Fermin, Sigur Rós, Taylor Swift, Ben Folds, and Beyoncé.
Favorite TV Shows: Schitt’s Creek, Ted Lasso, Bluey
Favorite Character in the Bible: Jacob, because he found God under a rock.Rev. Jim's Website
Jim is a divergent thinker, an ideation specialist, and an aspiring minimalist. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok at @RevJimRuns.
Rev. Amanda is an educator, songwriter, animal lover, and writer. Her work comes from a place of hope and expectation; where love and justice are just over the horizon. She cherishes her role as parent to two teenagers. She dabbles in comedy, watercolor, and campfires, and prefers cold weather after growing up in the Texas heat. She is always up for improv or discussing any episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Hometown: Austin, TX
Education: BA in Spanish Secondary Education from Wheaton College, MDIV from Union Theological Seminary
Hobbies & Interests: She dabbles in comedy, watercolor, and campfires, and prefers cold weather after growing up in the Texas heat. She is always up for improv or discussing any episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Side Gigs: She has written curriculum and small group materials for many publishers including Illustrated Ministry, Sparkhouse, United Methodist Women, and Nooma. Her original music written for Illustrated Ministry streams everywhere, and lyric videos stream on YouTube.
Favorite Movies: Sister Act, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Apostle
Favorite TV shows: The Office, Star Trek (TNG), wilderness survival shows
Current Playlist: Big ballads, sad songs, oldies, and lots of strong women
Favorite Character in the Bible: The Holy Spirit
Rev. Mira Sawlani-Joyner is a daughter of immigrants, a pastor, a preacher, an educator and a public theologian. Mira received her Master of Divinity degree from Wesley Theological Seminary where she earned an award for Excellence in Public Theology and a Community Life Award. During her time in seminary, Mira served as the Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Peace Fellowship Church, working in partnership with congregants, community organizers and activists to end gun violence in Washington, DC. Mira has also served on the launch team of Resurrection City, a Queer and Black led church plant; as the former Community Pastor at Forefront Church NYC and most recently as the Minister for Spiritual Development and Care at Middle Collegiate Church.
Her decolonized approach to justice and advocacy have been informed by her lived experience as a “third culture kid” of Philippine and Indian heritage in her birthplace of Hong Kong, and her extensive experience doing ministry in multicultural communities from Australia to the United States. Her journey as a mother of three girls has fueled her desire to bring about social change for their futures and to bring to realization God’s kin-dom here on earth for all to experience.
Hometown: Hong Kong
Education: M.Div. Wesley Theological Seminary, Specialization in Public Theology
Hobbies & Interests: Martial arts training- primarily Capoeira, dancing salsa and bachata, karaoke, board games, reading, travel, art: watercolors and collage, running (a slow jog really), arts and crafts with the kids, the beach.
Side Gigs: I am a cohort leader with the Faith and Justice Network and a member of the Progressive Asian American Christian Network.
Favorite Movies: Inside Out, Life is Beautiful, Bend it Like Beckham
Favorite TV Shows: The Bridgerton series, This is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, A Million Little Things, Never Have I Ever
Current Playlist: 90s music from Lauren Hill, to Green Day to the Backstreet Boys!
Favorite Character in the Bible: Rahab
The Reverend Lisa M. Weaver, Ph.D., a native New Yorker, is currently a worship consultant with The Riverside Church. She was most recently an assistant worship professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. Dr. Weaver serves as a board member on the worship grants advisory board for Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, serves as a member of an ecumenical and interdisciplinary consultation for Ecumenical Protocols for In Person Worship, serves on the executive committee of The Hymn Society, and works as a liturgical consultant.
The convergence of Dr. Weaver’s liturgical expertise and her deep love and appreciation for church music were well employed when she served as a theological consultant on the hymnal “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: An African American Ecumenical Hymnal and in her three essays found in “Singing Our Savior’s Story: A Congregational Song Supplement for the Christian Year, Hymn Texts since 1990” (GIA Publications). Her current research focuses on the liturgical practices of enslaved people of African descent as witnessed in enslaved narratives.
Dr. Weaver also does specialized ministry in the area of father-daughter relationships. This ministry work is called “Healing Jephthahs’ Daughters: Healing the Wounds of the Father-Daughter Relationship.” In this work, she journeys with women in exploring the landscape and the effects of unhealthy paternal relationships and guides and supports them as they move towards freedom, healing, and wholeness.
I was the first born among nine children. We grew to adulthood in Detroit, Michigan. We are quite diverse: singers, preachers, union reps, but all church-goers, making personal commitments to God by the time we reached young adulthood. I became interested in writing in elementary school and went on to pursue that interest in high school, college and graduate school all within Michigan, except the time I spent in New York at Union Theological Seminary. Currently I serve as Minister of Curriculum Development at The Riverside Church in New York and serve as a part-time Assistant Professor of English at New York City College of Technology.
Education: B.S., English Literature and Composition; M.S. Journalism [Wayne State University], M.Div, Theology [Union Theological Seminary], Ph.D., Instructional Design [University of Michigan]
Hobbies & Interests: Identifying principles for modern living that are embedded within ancient biblical texts fascinates me. I love composing literature that illustrates how to apply those principles while pursuing social justice. I am composing educational materials that I have a keen interest in related social justice issues on the African Continent and throughout its Diaspora. My books and church school publications demonstrate that interest, as does my work as Minister of Curriculum Development at the Riverside Church in New York.
Side Gigs: In addition to my ministry at Riverside, I serve in pulpit supply in churches within the New York Conference Metropolitan Association. I also teach English Composition at the New York City College of Technology. My publications are used in churches throughout the United States, Britain and throughout nations on the Continent of Africa. They include: Africans Who Shaped Our Faith [co-authored with Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright], Family Ties: Restoring Unity in the African American Family, How I Got Over, among others. Formerly, I served as editor of Inteen and Young Adult Today publications for Urban Ministries, and several Church School publications for the United Methodist Publishing House.
Favorite Movie: Sidney Poitier in Separate but Equal (1991)
Favorite TV Show: Judge Judy
Current Playlist: “How I Got Over” as sung by Aretha Franklin
High School Superlative: Most Likely to Succeed
Favorite Character in the Bible: Mary Magdalene
Derrick T. Jordan, M.Div., LMSW., is a psychotherapist, clinical instructor, consultant and the current Director of the Ackerman Institute for the Family, Gender & Family Project. In addition to being a highly-trained mental health professional, he is a classically trained musician who earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, cum laude, from Virginia Commonwealth University; a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary; and a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University. For years, Derrick has led spiritually-based educational initiatives while serving in various ministerial capacities at nationally recognized faith organizations. Derrick’s pastoral care and counseling experience helps guide his clinical work at the intersection of race, ethnicity, culture, gender identity/expression, and sexuality.
Derrick received his clinical training with the Ackerman Institute’s Social Work and Diversity Program, the Gender & Family Project’s Unity Project in Family Engagement and Acceptance, The Minuchin Center for the Family, and has experience as a therapist working with those impacted by the child welfare system. Derrick has been featured in various national media outlets including The Associated Press, Yahoo Life, Vice along with the nationally syndicated podcast, Mom Enough; speaking to the importance of (gender) equity, along with affirming practices and policies. In addition to his leadership roles, Derrick is the owner and founder of DJordan Solutions, LLC, a mental health consulting company that provides guidance and support to individuals and agencies navigating matters of diversity, equity and inclusion. Derrick is a licensed minister in the American Baptist Church and has a spiritual background steeped in both the Baptist and Pentecostal traditions. As a member of The Riverside Church, Derrick serves as clergy and has worked with various departments at Riverside including Parish Care, Education, as well as Worship & Arts.
Education: Bachelor of Music in Music Education, cum laude, from Virginia Commonwealth University; a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary; and a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.
Hobbies & Interests: In his leisure time, Derrick is a long-distance runner, health advocate, avid reader, foodie and music enthusiast.
Rev. Charlene A. Wingate is a lover of all things God, a restorative educator and a preacher who currently serves as the Support Minister for Worship and Arts at the Riverside Church. As part of the Worship Production team at Riverside, Rev. Charlene engages in creative collaboration that intentionally seeks to cultivate meaningful, diverse, and inclusive worship experiences for all. She is the producer of the 8:30 am worship service, Fresh Start as well as the worship coordinator for the monthly Wednesday evening service, Space for Grace.
In addition, Rev. Charlene fills her weekdays leading the Student Support Services Team in a New York City Department of Education 6-12 public school, she is an Adjunct Professor of various Education and Leadership courses for the Certificate Program at New York Theological Seminary, a member of the RISE Together Mentorship Network Advisory Council Executive Team, and an active member with the denomination of her ordained ministry, American Baptist Churches (USA). With over two decades of teaching experience, Rev. Charlene finds joy in applying her studies of music, religious education, equity, and theology to the development of opportunities for all to experience God’s love.
Hometown: East Elmhurst, NY
Education: Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Music and Music Technology from the City University of New York at City College, Master’s of Arts in Music and Music Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, Master’s of Divinity and Master’s of Arts in Religious Education from the New York Theological Seminary, Master’s of Educational Leadership from Bank Street College of Education, New York, NY
Hobbies & Interests: Singing, swimming, laughing, and writing.
Side Gigs: Teaching, teaching, and more teaching!
High School Superlative: Most likely to Succeed
Favorite Character in the Bible: Hagar
I am a 71 year old mother of two adult children. I returning to school as a full-time student at Union Theological Seminary (2nd year). I am currently do my field education placement at the Riverside church.
Education: 2nd Year MDiv student at Union Theological Seminary: Chaplaincy
Interests: Death, Dying and Transition, Documentaries on UTube, Summer Outdoor Concerts, Museums
Favorite Movies: Any Woody Allen movie
Current Playlist: Any 60’s or 70’s Motown
High School Superlative: Most funniest
Favorite Character in the Bible: Jesus
Kathy is a Masters of Divinity student at Union Theological Seminary, where she’s studying Psychology and Religion. Kathy is also interested in queer theology, psychoanalysis, and the arts. She will be pursuing a career in chaplaincy following graduation. In her free time, Kathy enjoys reading, watching scary movies, and daydreaming about her future cat.
Favorite Movie: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)
Ryan was raised in the Midwest alongside two brothers a sister. He has lived in NYC since 1999 and received his PhD in History in 2008. He is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at Union Theological Seminary, concentrating in Theological Studies. Since 2002 Ryan has taught history at various NYC colleges, most recently (since 2012) at Bronx Community College. He lives in Inwood with his two children, ages 9 and 11.
Education: DePaul Univ. (Greencastle, IN); CUNY Graduate Center
Hobbies & Interests: Reading, walks, art museums, golf (when I can, which is far too rarely), being in the ocean (same).
Favorite Movie: That’s a hard one! The best sports movie ever is Hoosiers (1986).